If you’re studying abroad in Spain during the spring semester, you’re in for a cultural treat. The spring semester is a great time to be in Spain because of the various holidays and celebrations, and two of the biggest are Semana Santa and La Feria. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is the week leading up to Easter Sunday, a Christian holiday commemorating the death of Jesus. La Feria and Semana Santa have very different tones, but both are equally extravagant in their own way.
Spaniards of all ages and genders spend the year preparing for Semana Santa and it has been celebrated since the 12th century. Beginning on Palm Sunday, processions take place on the streets in honor of the Passion of Jesus Christ. People who walk in the processions carry the heavy statues and make a pilgrimage throughout the city. Each float (paso) represents a part of the story of how Jesus died. Each church in the city has a brotherhood that carries the pasos from their church to the Cathedral, and it is an act of repentance to God and dedication to the Spanish tradition. The processions on the streets are long, some lasting as long as 12 hours. The most significant part of Semana Santa is Holy Thursday, where some processions start in the night and continue through to the next morning. Streets are shut down, and there’s often music accompanying the pasos.
Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, Semana Santa is a very big deal and I encourage you to observe the Spanish tradition. This year, Semana Santa will be held from March 25, 2018 – April 1, 2018